Claude-Achille Debussy - Clair de Lune (Mondglanz, Mondschein, Moonlight), Suite Bergamasque, Claudio Arrau pianist. The Suite bergamasque was first composed by Debussy, 1890-1905. Claudio Arrau, 88 years old. Recorded in 1991. Arrau died in June 1991
Claude Debussy's famous Clair de lune is the third piece of the Suite bergamasque for piano, a work whose title was chosen as much for its composer's love of the word-sounds as for its Renaissance implications (though the work can rightly be described as something of a tribute to the French harpsichordists of olden days).
The D flat major of Clair de lune is perfectly chosen, the gleaming melody in parallel thirds (con sordina, Debussy requests) expertly balanced by the beautifully dissonant tempo rubato that follows it. During the un poco mosso middle section of Clair de lune, the music swells far past the pianissimo of the opening, and in its climax one might say that the young composer has crafted more of sunlight than of moonlight; the incessant arpeggios may well be overdone, but one can cherish them all the same. Little wisps of these arpeggios find their way over into the reprise of the opening music, and the rolling tones of the middle section are given a few measures to plead their case once more before the final chromatic cadence, a moment of absolute tranquility, is made.
Clair de Lune is a French poem written by Paul Verlaine in the year 1869. It is the inspiration for the third and most famous movement of Debussy's 1890 Suite bergamasque of the same name. 'Clair de lune' ('Moonlight') is from Verlaine's early collection Fêtes galantes (Gallant Parties, 1869).
Clair de lune
Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.
Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L'amour vainqueur et la vie opportune,
Ils n'ont pas l'air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,
Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d'extase les jets d'eau,
Les grands jets d'eau sveltes parmi les marbres.
Your soul is a select landscape fair
Where charming masqueraders and bergamaskers go
Playing the lute and dancing and almost
Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.
All sing in a minor key
Of victorious love and the opportune life,
They do not seem to believe in their happiness
And their song mingles with the moonlight,
With the still moonlight, sad and beautiful,
Which gives the birds to dream in the trees
And makes the fountain sprays sob in ecstasy,
The tall, slender fountain sprays among the marble statues.
Your soul is as a moonlit landscape fair,
Peopled with maskers delicate and dim,
That play on lutes and dance and have an air
Of being sad in their fantastic trim.
The while they celebrate in minor strain
Triumphant love, effective enterprise,
They have an air of knowing all is vain,—
And through the quiet moonlight their songs rise,
The melancholy moonlight, sweet and lone,
That makes to dream the birds upon the tree,
And in their polished basins of white stone
The fountains tall to sob with ecstasy.
A tua alma é uma paisagem escolhida
Onde enganam máscaras e bergamascas
Tocam lira e dançam quase
Tristes sob os seus fantásticos disfarces.
Cantando em modo menor
O amor triunfante e a vida auspiciosa,
Não parecem acreditar na sua felicidade
E a sua canção se mistura com o luar,
Com o calmo luar triste e belo,
Que faz sonhar as aves nas árvores
E soluçar de êxtase os jactos de água,
Os grandes jactos de água esbelta entre os mármores.
Paul Verlaine, 1869
Reacting against realism and rhetoric, the Symbolists tried instead to evoke a mood, an essence, an Ideal. Just as the Moon takes its light from the Sun, they sought to illuminate seemingly inaccessible subjects indirectly, by creating reflections. Here we have masks and dancing, fantastic disguises, fountains sobbing in ecstasy, moonlight: a swirl of suggestive images that speaks volumes about the human soul without really saying anything. Rather like music, in fact. Both Ravel and Fauré composed pieces based on Verlaine's poetry, and this poem inspired Claude Debussy to write his own 'Clair de lune', the third movement of his Suite bergamasque and the work for which he is now most famous.